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Globe South Sports Notebook

O'Connor, Acloque boost Simmon

O’CONNOR O’CONNOR
By Marvin Pave
January 27, 2011

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O’Connor, Acloque boost Simmons Sophomore guard/forward Liz O’Connor of Milton and junior forward Alex Acloque of Randolph have given the women’s basketball program at Simmons College a lift this season.

With the graduation of a pair of 1,000-point career scorers, O’Connor has stepped forward as the team’s leading scorer (14.8 points per game), was tied for the team lead with 36 assists, and was second on rebounding (7.5 per game) and blocked shots (11). A former team MVP at Milton High, she has converted 70 percent of her free throws.

“Liz benefited last year in playing with some veteran players,’’ said Simmons coach Tony Price, whose team was 7-9 overall through last weekend. “She was a star at Milton High, and as role player last year for us as a freshman, she was taken under the wing of our upperclassmen and coaching staff, and that has helped her become more of a featured player this season.’’

A player who loves to attack the basket, O’Connor is “tenacious and has no fear of going in among the ‘trees,’ and she’s definitely not sneaking up on people anymore,’’ said Price, who guided Simmons to 17-win seasons in 2009 and 2010 and is hoping this rebuilding year can at least garner a conference playoff berth. O’Connor has also held a number of the leading scorers in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference well under their season scoring averages.

O’Connor was a three-year track and basketball athlete in high school, a basketball team captain, and a Bay State League All-Star in basketball her junior and senior seasons.

Acloque, the team’s power forward, was leading Simmons in rebounding (8.9 per game) while averaging 4.4 points and chipping in with 7 blocks and 15 steals.

A Mayflower League All-Star and a basketball MVP at Blue Hills Regional, Acloque came in strong at the end of last season when Price put her in the starting lineup and the team immediately went on a run to the GNAC playoffs.

“She’s a rebounding demon and a coach’s delight,’’ said Price. “She’s just 5-foot-8 and going up against taller players, but we needed her to step up in her role after two seasons of getting acclimated to the college game. Alex has responded by doing everything we’ve asked of her and she really showed she was ready earlier this season with a school record 21-rebound game against Bard College.’’

Maturing Mclaurin grabs weekly honor Framingham State junior guard Marcus Mclaurin (below) of Braintree was named the Player of the Week in Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference after averaging 23 points and 4.1 rebounds over a two-game span.

A second semester transfer from Massasoit Community College, the 6-2 Mclaurin was averaging 18 points and 2.8 rebounds for the Rams.

Mclaurin exploded for 33 points, including the game-winning hoop with 2.7 seconds to play, in an 81-79 win over Westfield State, a game in which he also pulled down 6 rebounds.

Framingham State was 3-2 in the MASCAC and 6-9 overall under first-year coach Paul Wholey, a Hull alum who spent the previous four years at Pembroke High.

“Marcus has been an enormous addition to our team,’’ said Wholey, who guided his 2008-09 Pembroke team to the Patriot League title and the South Sectional semifinals. “He brings maturity, court sense, and versatility and he’s tough to cover. . . . He’s a shooting guard who also gives us time at the point.’’

Wholey, who has coached at Marshfield, Norwell, and Hull High and served as an assistant at Stonehill College and Bridgewater State, is director of the POPS program, a Massachusetts AAU affiliate based in Marshfield. Braintree coach Bobby Crook told Wholey that Mclaurin kept getting better, and emerged as a leader his senior year. “He’s continued to work at the game and is coming into his own,’’ said Wholey.

A 2005 Braintree graduate who also attended Johnson & Wales University, Mclaurin played the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons at Massasoit and averaged 20 points a game his sophomore year.

“He rose to the occasion for us and was one of my all-time favorite players,’’ said Massasoit coach Jim Stapleton, who noted that Mclaurin went up against another Massasoit alum, Marcellus Lee of North Quincy, in the Westfield game.

Here and there Franklin Pierce University junior catcher Mike Dowd of East Bridgewater has been named a preseason All-American by Baseball America Magazine. Dowd hit .306 (72 for 235) last season and finished in the top 20 in the Northeast-10 Conference in seven offensive categories. . . . Westfield State senior Amanda Gricus of Marion placed second and broke her own school record in the weight throw (51 feet, 9 3/4 inches) for the Owls at the recent Springfield Invitational.

Marvin Pave can be reached at 508-820-4223 or marvin.pave@rcn.com.